A Prince For Us All
Moving, emotive and informative, Prince William: A Planet For Us All perfectly highlights the Duke of Cambridge's admirable work to protect our natural world.
OCTOBER 6th, 2020
n 1997, Princess Diana allowed a camera crew to follow her on her trip through Angola to highlight the destructive and brutal reality of antipersonnel landmines. The documentary was narrated by the late-princess and singlehandedly changed the world’s view on the dehumanising weapons. Almost 25 years after her death, it has since become a pinnacle example of her humanitarian work and proved how powerful a public platform can be. It made sense then, that all these years later, her eldest son Prince William, would take a similar approach with his new documentary, Prince William: A Planet For Us All.
For two years a camera crew followed the Duke of Cambridge, documenting his work on conservation and protecting the environment, yet what became instantly apparent – this wasn’t about William. Instead, the focus was firmly placed in the direction of those outside of the realm of royalty working and striving to protect our planet’s habitats. The result of this approach was an inspiring, optimistic, powerful and surprisingly moving documentary, which proved Prince William is a formidable asset to the fight against climate change.
The Duke’s “idol” when it comes to the subject of environmentalism is Sir David Attenborough, and early in the documentary we see William, alongside his wife The Duchess of Cambridge, launch the Polar Research Ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough. As the documentary continues, it was easy to see how the acclaimed broadcaster’s influence has helped shape William’s approach to the problems surrounding our environment.
Never once throughout the documentary’s 90-minute runtime does William preach or patronise. He informs, educates and celebrates the work of those striving for change, irrespective of who they are and how large their public platform may be. Whether it be Sir David Attenborough or two schoolgirls living in the Scottish Highlands, William bestows equal time and praise for both. He leads the documentary with a solution-based approach, knowing that words mostly fall on deaf ears. People (especially young people) want to see action, they’ve heard enough talk, they now want us to walk.
Yet, to find those solutions, you also need to identify the problems and the Duke doesn’t hide away from highlighting the more frightening obstacles the natural world is facing. One particular harrowing moment sees William visiting a heavily guarded secure ivory store in Tanzania where 43,000 tusks with a street value of £50million have been impounded. The emotion is evident of the Prince’s face, and the sheer volume of tusks perfectly highlights the devastating impact that illegal poaching is having on our natural world. “It’s a mind-blowing number of tusks, it really is. You can’t get your head around it,” describes William as walks amongst piles and piles of ivory tusks.
Illegal poaching is a subject the Duke of Cambridge has long campaigned against and he has worked with organisations, including Tusk, for decades. This established partnership has taught the Duke that the illegal wildlife trade – one which has quickly become the fourth largest illicit transnational activity in the world, estimated to be worth $23 billion – is not only destroying our natural world on a global scale, but locally too.
Whilst in Tanzania, William continues his visit by meeting a community of local villagers who live on the Ehirovipuka Conservancy, who are actively tackling poachers through a neighbourhood watch program. Tjavarekua Tjijahura – one of the locals taking on the fight over poaching – says in the documentary, “I used to follow him since he was born, way back in the 80s. So, I think he will help us a lot.”
That help comes with a familiar magic touch once held by his mother Princess Diana, yet the Duke also acknowledges the forward-thinking work of his father, The Prince of Wales, and his grandfather, The Duke of Edinburgh. The combination of these two approaches – duty and personability – showcased the unique royal space William currently inhabits and it’s hard not to be charmed by him.
His ability to transform from the statesman, addressing a room full of the world’s most powerful leaders with conviction and confidence, to delightfully answering two schoolchildren’s questions about Prince George and Princess Charlotte with warmth and humour, is a winning concoction which not only provided a heart-warming undercurrent to the documentary, but promoted an inclusivity on a subject matter which, in some cases, has felt exclusive.
Prince William: A Planet For Us All expertly demonstrated why many people admire the future king. His simplified message, embedded with empathy, compassion and approachability, promotes a future monarchy that is accessible to everyone. He took us to some of the farthest reaches on earth, including Africa and Pakistan, but also reminded us of the stunning composition of our own country, proving climate change is also happening just beyond your doorstep, and he did it with not an ounce of judgement.
After Diana’s documentary aired in 1997, the public’s attention to landmines shifted irrevocably. Where once the issue had been seen as difficult, or “not our problem”; through Diana’s unrivalled popularity and influence, attitudes quickly changed. In the reactive aftermath of A Planet For Us All, it feels inevitable that we will see the same response.
The Duke of Cambridge has effectively shifted the conversation from “doom and gloom” to “solutions and hope”, and he’s achieved it through the schoolchildren who created “Bugingham Palace”; the community of the Ehirovipuka Conservancy in Tanzania fighting against poachers; sisters Caillin and Maia Patterson in the Scottish Highlands protecting the local coastline; the scientists monitoring the melting glaciers in the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan; the local community of Anglesey removing plastic from their beaches, and David Mooney who transformed the Woodberry Wetlands into a natural haven. Through his documentary, William is leading from the front, and has proved that the planet is for us all, and it will take each and every one of us to save it.
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